French-Armenian Resistance hero Missak Manouchian to enter France’s Panthéon on February 21

Missak Manouchian, an Armenian genocide survivor who went on to become a French Resistance hero, and his wife Melinee Manouchian will enter France’s Panthéon mausoleum of revered historical figures on February 21.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced in the decision in July 2023.

“Manouchian carries a part of our greatness”, Macron then said in the statement, adding that the French-Armenian poet and communist embodied France’s “universal values” of liberty, equality and fraternity.

According to the wishes of his family, his wife Mélinée will join him in the mausoleum, although she will not receive the “pantheonisation” of her husband – the rare tribute reserved only for those who have played an important role in French history, such as Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Marie Curie.

Manouchian arrived in France in 1925 as a stateless refugee after fleeing the Armenian genocide with his brother, and joined the country’s communist Resistance movement in 1943 during World War II. He led a small group of fighters that carried out a string of successful attacks against the occupying Nazi forces.

In 1944, the group, which included a number of Jews, was put out of action when 23 of its members were rounded up and sentenced to death by a German military court.

Manouchian was shot by a Nazi firing squad on February 21, 1944.

By entering the Panthéon, Manouchian will become both the first foreign and communist Resistance fighter to be awarded the honor.

In his tribute, Macron also pointed to the “bravery” and “quiet heroism” of Manouchian and other foreign Resistance fighters.

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